Thai curry is one dish of which I have made many variations-from scratch or out of the jar, red or green, with chicken, shrimp, or beef. Whatever combination, it has never disappointed. I once made red Thai curry paste consisting of chilis, lemon grass, galangal and other ingredients in my authentic Thai mortar and pestle. Unfortunately, after all the elbow grease and time committed to finding ingredients, it tasted very similar to store-bought jarred curry. On the plus side, I had a large batch of curry paste that thankfully keeps for quite a long time in the refrigerator. Even though I am normally an advocate for using fresh ingredients when possible, today I used a green curry paste out of a jar. In case you're wondering, green curry is made from green chilis while red is made from red chilis, therefore, green curry is usually hotter than red (think jalapenos vs. red thai chilis)
The real ingenuity in this dish is the balance of flavors of heat and sweet. I often use chicken or strips of flank steak, but I especially like shrimp in this curry. Added at the very last step, the shrimp will be cooked to just the right tenderness and its sweetness will contrast the heat of the chilis. I highly recommend buying a jar of curry paste or grinding some yourself and start experimenting.
Thai Curry with Shrimp
1 Tablespoon peanut oil
1 Tablespoon Green or Red Curry paste
1 13.5 ounce can coconut milk allowed to separate (I like Chaokoh)
1/3 cup chicken stock
2 Tablespoons dark brown sugar
3 Tablespoons fish sauce
1/2 bunch fresh basil leaves
1/3 cup bamboo shoots
1 sweet potato, halved then sliced into 1/4 inch pieces
1 small chinese eggplant, halved, then cut into 1 inch chunks
8 ounces peeled large shrimp
Heat peanut oil in a medium saucepan on medium-high heat. Then add 1 tablespoon curry paste and cook until fragrant. Add the thick cream from the top of the coconut milk to the curry paste and stir to combine. Cook until the oil separates, then add the rest of the coconut milk. (If you are using low fat coconut milk, skip this step and just add it all at once.) Allow to simmer for about 5 minutes.
Add the chicken stock, brown sugar, and fish sauce. Then add basil leaves, bamboo shoots, sweet potato, and eggplant. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes until vegetables are tender. Lastly, stir in shrimp, turn off heat, and cover for about 2 minutes. Stir to ensure the shrimp are cooked evenly. When the shrimp are pink and curled, serve the curry over fragrant jasmine rice.